Because, really, who knows you better than your dog?
They see you at your worst – crumbled up and sobbing on a bedroom floor; naked in the bathroom mirror; curled up on a couch, covered in tissues as you fight the flu.
They see you at your best – the evening of your engagement; the morning of your wedding; every December as you drag out tote after tote of Christmas decorations, laughing as you retell stories of holidays long gone.
They take all that you are and look past it – past your selfishness and short temper; past your over-indulgence in cupcakes and chips; past your reluctance to put clean laundry right away or to put your dirty socks in the hamper. They disregard characteristics that would cause other humans to frown upon you in disapproval or lecture you on the importance of doing this or that.
Dogs simply love you.
They simply love you.
If you know me personally or have ever read my blog, you would know that I have had the honor of being Sadie’s mama. Fourteen years ago, Jason and his father went to Mohawk Hudson Humane Society in search of a pup. There were two young dogs that caught Jason’s attention – one was very calm, relaxed and great on the leash.
The other was Sadie.
If she ever came upon a body of water, you better have had a good grip on her leash, or she would be in it and swimming before you even knew it was there.
She loved going for walks. She was also very in tune with her humans. So much so, in fact, that there were more instances than I can count when Jason and I simply looked at each other, one of us THINKING about going for a walk but without us saying a word, she would start whining and dancing at the door. She just knew.
She greeted every human she met with tons of sloppy kisses and a non-stop tail-wag. She greeted (most) other dogs with a snarl and the rise of the hairs on her back. The sooner they understood that SHE was the alpha dog, the better it would be for everyone. In fact, as soon as she was established as the pack leader, whether or not that dog even wanted to be in her pack, she simply ignored the fact that another dog was even around. She had humans to kiss and tennis balls to catch.
Other than routine visits for yearly vaccinations, Sadie was never sick and never even had to go to the vet until she was 13, when a tumor was discovered on her tail.
She had to have surgery to have it removed, and the vet was concerned about putting a dog her age under anesthesia. I was given the task of picking her up after her surgery. As I waited in the small room, a vet tech told me that, due to her age, it may take her some time to recover and not to be surprised if she seemed lethargic. She left me with worries as she went back to get our Sadie pup. Those worries quickly vanished as I heard the tic tic tic of her feet scurrying down the hall and into the room where I was waiting. She jumped up to greet me with the same enthusiasm she met me with every day.
The vet was a bit surprised at how quick she recovered.
We were not.
That was just Sadie.
And, although nervous, we weren’t surprised last summer, when the vet had to remove a second malignant tumor, this time from her hip.
At that point, Sadie may have been 14, but she certainly wasn’t going anywhere.
Shortly after Sadie’s second surgery, we fostered (then adopted) Bumble. Although she wasn’t exactly crazy about him at first, the two became friends. Although she loved our cats, she now had someone to chase and herd in the backyard and play rope with inside.
Last week, out of the blue, Sadie’s eye sight went. It was very quick, and nearly without explanation. On Saturday she was outside with Jason and Bumble, playing catch and the next day, she couldn’t see the ball. She was rushed to the vet, who dismissed glaucoma and cataracts and left us with no real reasoning behind her impairment. While Jason and I were in tears over her new disability, she showed us that nothing would slow her down, as she played tug with Bumble that evening and begged for treats after coming in from outside.
We spent a few days adapting to this next stage in her life, when we noticed one eye was swollen. Back to the vet we went. Only an MRI would confirm the vet’s suspicion that another tumor had made its way into Sadie, and this time, it was on her brain. We didn’t want to put her through the stress of a test that could leave us with an answer, but no cure.
She was sent home with antibiotics and the glimmer of hope that the swelling was from an infection, and would go down. I wasn’t able to make that trip to the vet’s, but came home from work that evening and was still greeted by both our sweet dogs, both tails wagging. They went outside and came back in, sitting and waiting patiently for their shortbread cookie.
Sadie took it and then went to her bed, where she laid down. I could tell something was wrong, and lay down with her. She was calm and her breathing began to slow. I knew she was telling me that it was time for her to leave us. We stayed that way for an hour, waiting for Jason to get home from work. When he did, Sadie did not jump up to greet him, and had trouble even lifting her head. We all lay together, with Feeny (our oldest cat and Sadie’s very best friend) and Bumble by her side.
We knew what we had to do.
We took her into the vet and with us and Jason’s parents by her side, Sadie passed away.
I know everyone thinks that their dog is the best dog, and it should be that way. But Sadie – Sadie REALLY was one of the good ones. The great ones.
My family – full of dog lovers – affectionately referred to her as Grandma Dog, as she was the oldest. But they’d watch in awe as she’d out run and out play any pup around, at any time.
Jason and I wanted to let you all know that our precious pup is no longer with us, but her memories will stay forever. Thank you for all of the love and countless games of fetch you gave Sadie over the years.
When we pass away, we need to remember to have a ball on hand, as we know she will be there to greet us, tail wagging with one paw up, ready to chase after that green ball sailing through the sky.